Updated Fair Electoral College Tally

I have created a project on GitHub at dwvisser/electoral-fair that scrapes the state results compiled at the Wikipedia page for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, and computes a fair electoral college tally according to the methodology I laid out in my blog post, Fair, Efficient State-wise Electoral College Vote Allocation. As you can see for yourself in the Jupyter notebook, the results are as follows:

Party Presidential Candidate Electoral College Voters “Wasted” Popular Votes
Democratic Hillary Clinton 261 1,014,221
Republican Donald Trump 261 443,583
Libertarian Gary Johnson 14 2,089,659
Green Jill Stein 1 1,188,700
Independent Evan McMullin 1 513,253
Other various 0 955,577
Total 538 6,204,993

The “Wasted” column tallies all votes that didn’t manage to count towards securing an Electoral College member. Remember that this number is closer to half of the ~137 million total popular votes under the current “winner-take-all” system. I interpret this as an over 90% reduction (~68M -> ~6M) in “unfairness”. Due to the Wikipedia article’s lumping of all candidates below the top 5 into the “Other” column, I forced the calculations to never assign an electoral vote to “Other”, which would be meaningless. It should be clear that this makes no material difference in the results. California has the largest “Other” count at 147,244. It appears that the largest of these was write-ins for Bernie Sanders, so it is possible that one electoral vote may have gone to him in my allocation method.

In my fantasy ideal implementation of the Electoral College, these electors would be selected by the states, and sent to the U.S. Capitol as an actual deliberative body. Normally, their “moral obligation” is to vote as shown in the table, meaning no winner with the needed 270 votes, which would throw the choice to the House. In my fantasy version, they could have a chance to deliberate when there is no clear immediate winner. This would often be the case in my allocation method, judging by the national popular vote results in 4 of the last 7 elections.

In this year’s election, the Libertarian electors are the ones which could swing the electoral victory. They come from all kinds of states: red, blue, and purple. I see it more likely than not that they would break for the Republican, given the philosophical similarities. Lessig has made the case that the College should break from obligation, and instead give the needed votes to national popular vote victor, Hillary Clinton. He argues this based on the information that has come to light since election day about the  compromised position that Donald Trump is in vis-a-vis Russian hacking. In my scenario, they would be free to do that, too.


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